Many visitors to Istanbul, staying in the historic hotspots of Beyoğlu and Sultanahmet, have little knowledge or experience of the vast, sprawling city beyond - the rapidly rising skyscrapers that turn the hills into a land of futuristic giants. The Elgiz Contemporary Art Museum is a good reason to acquire a taste for Istanbul's modern side, being based in the business district of Maslak. Thanks to its current Skyline (Ufuk Hattı in Turkish) exhibition on its rooftop terrace, visitors can experience the financial architecture of steel and glass along with works of sculpture by contemporary local and foreign artists. Indeed, the effect of these sculptures - some abstract and some fantastic - is like watching a surreal play, frozen in time, in the open-air theater of skyscrapers. Never has modern Istanbul looked so starkly beautiful and inspiring than from the Elgiz rooftop.
One of the most arresting pieces in the fantastic category is Mahmut Aydın's "Tahakküm / Hegemony". A naked man, rendered in carved iroko wood, points a stick at a collection of metal crows, directing them to obey a set of geometric blocks in bright yellow. Speaking about the work, Aydın says: "I wanted to focus on the infinite urges and desires of humankind and its merciless destruction of nature." Continuing the bird theme, which also suits the rooftop space, Emre Rebil Özçaylan's "Ateşten Olan / Empyrean" depicts the Simurgh bird of Persian myth as a steel skeleton standing on petrified wood. Meanwhile, Ahmet Özparlak's "Yeni Türkiye / New Turkey" takes a political slant: a butchered animal carcass, with a rose placed in its backside, hangs from a metal gibbet - a statement of the artist's bitter feelings about the current situation. Another notable work of fantasy is Ayşe Sultan Babayiğit's "Sineklerin Krallığı / Lord of the Flies", which places a supersized and anthropomorphic fly on a stool, enjoying its superiority over mankind.
The museum is running an instagram competition with the exhibition - take a picture of Skyline @elgizmuseum with the hashtag #elgizmuseumgoestovenice to win a trip to the Venice Biennial.
In the abstract category, Francesco Panceri's "Life Circle" uses a weathered steel ring, with energetic protrusions, to suggest the infinite animation of nature. Through this ring visitors can also view the other sculptures, making a unifying effect on their separate natures and the skyscrapers behind. Tuba Coşkun's "İsimsiz / Untitled" is composed of a metal tower with a single door; on the other side of the tower, the words "All cultures looked to the stars but all saw different images" are cut out of the metal, and cut-out holes suggest stars in the tower's roof. While enclosing us, this immersive sculpture creates a sense of awe. The work "İsimsiz / Untitled" by B. Eren Güler takes a different approach to abstraction - rather than focusing on the sculpture, we stand on it and focus on the horizon. By means of a set of springs in the base, the metal platform shifts the viewer's angle, changing the skyline perspective.
This exhibition combines a varied selection of talent from the older and younger generations, local and foreign, female and male. Set against the stunning backdrop of Istanbul's financial heart, the show takes on a much broader meaning, standing as a question mark in the city's helter-skelter development. While at Elgiz Contemporary Art Museum, don't miss the museum's notable permanent collection, which includes pieces by Tracy Emin, Gilbert&George, Stephan Balkenhol, Cindy Sherman, and Hiroshi Sugito.